July / August 2021 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


We have just completed our best national convention so far, with Maryland bringing home the attendance banner once again.  We have also hosted literally dozens of tours, contests, activities, and events.  Many members really stepped up and contributed in meaningful ways to ensure that the 2021 Annual NFB Convention was the best one in our organization’s history.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!


But in Maryland our work is never done.  As we turn our attention to preparing for our 55th Annual State Convention this fall, we also have a number of critical activities between now and then.  Please read below for more information about our priorities in the coming weeks and months.


2021 NFB National Convention – Virtual and the Best So Far!

Thank you for joining us for an incredible 2021 Annual National Federation of the Blind National Convention.  We collectively attended nearly 250 unique meetings over five days, had dozens of exhibitors, engaged with numerous sponsors, and had more than 6,000 registered participants.  In Maryland alone we had more than 550 registered participants, more than 100 of them first-timers.  We had an amazing convention because of you.  We learned, we laughed, and we grew because of you.  Because of your involvement, we won the attendance banner, we blew the Pre-Authorized Check Contribution Program amounts out of the water, and we had tremendous engagement in all workshops and activities. 


I enjoyed meeting with many of you at the Maryland Caucus on July 9 and hearing your perspectives on resolutions.  It was a great deal of fun speaking with many Federationists throughout the country at our daily virtual breakfast club when we walked through each day’s events and activities.  It was fun chatting with you in the #NFB21 app, and literally hundreds of you emailed and texted me throughout the week to tell me your thoughts and opinions about just about everything.  I also had a great time with many of you at our in-person banquet party.   


Our affiliate served as the host this year, and you did an outstanding job.  We hosted four tours, seven contests, shared squeezable crabs with national and affiliate leaders nationwide, provided numerous blog posts on our beloved state, published four articles in the Braille Monitor, hosted LOL Comedy Night for the first time in history, got over a hundred people to buy and wear Maryland scrubs, got Sharon Maneki to teach kids the Whip & Nay Nay, facilitated Pam Allen arguing with Homer Simpson, among several other fun Fit Breaks, and on and on and on.  In a word, Maryland was outstanding!


We also owe this incredible convention to President Riccobono and the staff of the National Federation of the Blind.   Most of the staff are members of the Maryland affiliate, and they once again did us proud. 


Get ready for New Orleans in 2022!

At the national board of directors meeting at the 2021 NFB National Convention, it was confirmed that the 2022 National Convention will take place from July 5 – 10 at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana. Start saving up so that you can attend the 2022 convention. 


Attend the NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting

Everyone is invited to attend the NFB of Maryland Board of Directors meeting on Saturday, August 28 to help us plan the convention.  We will be meeting at the Convention Hotel, the Holiday Inn Baltimore Downtown Inner Harbor (previously the Crown Plaza), located at 105 West Fayette Street, Baltimore.  The meeting will begin at 9:30 and end at 3:30.  Lunch will be available for purchase.  To RSVP, please contact me at (443) 426-4110 or President@nfbmd.org.  Individuals who plan to attend should let me know by August 14, 2021.


Focus Forward: The State Convention is Coming!

You will not want to miss the state convention at the Holiday Inn Baltimore Inner Harbor (formerly Crown Plaza) in Baltimore which takes place on November 12-14, 2021.  You may reserve your room by calling the Holiday Inn at 410-347-5707.  Convention Room Rates:  Standard Room - $94 per night. Tax on sleeping rooms is 17.5%.  These room rates start on Thursday, November 11, 2019.  The deadline for making room reservations is October 15, 2021. 


Be looking in your mailbox and on the website www.nfbmd.org for the preregistration forms.  They will be available soon.  Below are the prices for the various convention activities (prices are per person unless otherwise stated):

  • Pre-registration = $20 until October 15, 2021; $25 on-site
  • Banquet ticket = $40 until October 15, 2021; $45 on-site
  • Parent or Senior Luncheon ticket = $22 until October 15, 2021; $25 on-site
  • Friday boxed lunch = $16 until October 15, 2021; $20 on-site
  • Picnic & a Play tickets = $18 until October 15, 2021; $20 on-site
  • Transportation from New Carrollton Train Station = $35 until October 15, 2021; this covers round-trip travel
  • Childcare = TBD 


Basket and Bag Bingo is Coming!

Would you like to win over $4,000 in prizes? Would you like to play 23 games of BINGO? Snacks and raffles will also be available. Buy your tickets early because we always sell out.

We are busy arranging and filling baskets and procuring bags (purses). We need financial contributions to help with these purchases. Please let us know whether you would like to sponsor a basket or bag for $100. All contributions of any amount are welcome.  You may also purchase your ticket for $25.  Please purchase your ticket online at https://nfbmd.org/bingo. For questions or to purchase your ticket via check, contact Sharon Maneki at nfbmdsm@gmail.com.


Crabbing for Student Scholarships: October 3, 2021

The NFBMD Crab Feast will take place on Sunday, October 3, 2021.  Please purchase your tickets today.  This fundraiser supports the John T McCraw Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to blind post-secondary education students.

When: Sunday, October 3, 2021 - 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Tall Cedars - 2501 Putty Hill Ave - Parkville, MD 21234

Tickets are $60 each if purchased before September 17, or $65 afterwards. Children 6 and under are free. 

Special Promotion: Buy or Sell 25 or more tickets and get your ticket FREE!

Dancing, 50 / 50 Raffle, Door Prizes, and more.

Menu Includes:
Steamed Crabs, Pit Beef, turkey breast, & Ham – All You Can Eat!
Plus a Buffet of Entrees Including Old Bay wings and Sausage, Sides, Salad, Cake…
Yuengling and Miller beer
Carbonated Beverages, iced tea, and Coffee

To purchase tickets, visit https://www.nfbmd.org/crabs

For additional information contact me at (443) 426-4110 or email President@NFBMD.org


Please note: At this time, we are scheduled to hold this event in-person.  However, this is subject to change based on local public health directives related to COVID-19 and related factors.  We will communicate directly with ticket-holders to advise them of any changes. 


NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition!

the NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition will teach critical nonvisual techniques and Braille literacy to blind children nationwide.  Due to public health considerations associated with COVID-19, the 2021 NFB BELL Academy will be offered virtually rather than in person.  NFB BELL will be condensed into three nationally taught and coordinated sessions with support from NFBMD.  Tracks will be available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students.


The dates of the remaining session is as follows:

  • Session 3: August 9 – August 20, 2021


Each registered student will receive Braille and other fun materials for lessons, connect with experienced teachers, and build relationships with other blind students and mentors.


The NFB BELL Academy is appropriate for blind and low vision children ages four through twelve who:

  • do not receive enough Braille and nonvisual skills instruction in school;
  • could benefit from more Braille exposure over the summer; and/or
  • would enjoy connecting with blind role models.


Registration is free to families.  Participants may register by visiting https://www.nfb.org/form/nfb-bell-academy-home-edition.  Anyone needing assistance with registering should contact NFBMD BELL Coordinator Lizzy Muhammad at lizzy.muhammad@outlook.com or at 484-624-9778.


NFBMD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

NFBMD is actively working to expand our knowledge of and emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.  These initiatives also include those related to sexual harassment and misconduct, consent, boundaries, and power dynamics.  It is our intent that NFB of Maryland activities, events, and programs be safe and welcoming to all, and to that end we are devoting resources and time to increase our awareness and enhance our strategies on DEI.  WE rolled out a training to all chapters in January and February on topics related to consent, boundaries and power dynamics.  Our affiliate Board of Directors participated in the NFB-sponsored training on sexual harassment and violence prevention, provided by the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).  In June, we conducted Culture of Consent in the Blind Community training for all affiliate, chapter, and division board members as well as the Scholarship Committee, DEI Committee, and those who work with minors and hold trusted leadership positions in the affiliate.  This was approximately 110 people.  We also plan to roll out some specific training for parents and young people later in the summer on these topics as well.  Our state and chapter leaders will attend workshops on DEI, unconscious bias, and micro-aggressions in the Fall.  WE will engage in conversations on DEI and related topics and hold trainings during our State convention in November as well.  Our NFBMD DEI Committee, led by Anil Lewis, is engaged and working to promote the incorporation of DEI throughout our affiliate.  The Committee has sent out informational communications on certain topics and observances to promote DEI.  If you have questions about these initiatives or have suggestions for how we can best incorporate DEI into our programs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at President@nfbmd.org or at 443-426-4110 or Chairperson Anil Lewis at GreaterBaltimore@nfbmd.org.



Access to COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Resources

Due to lack of accessibility, blind Marylanders have experienced challenges accessing COVID-19 testing facilities and vaccination locations.  NFBMD has been working with the Maryland Department of Disabilities to ensure access to these services for the blind throughout Maryland.  To that end, we disseminate through all of our listserves an accessible spreadsheet containing vaccination locations, their contact information, and links for scheduling a vaccine appointment.  We realize that many of the county and medical provider vaccination sign-up portals are not accessible, even if we share their information in an accessible format.  To that end, we are exploring holding a vaccination clinic in Baltimore in April.  We are also beginning discussions about holding a vaccination clinic in Montgomery or Prince Georges Counties.  If individuals would be interested in participating in such a vaccination clinic, please email me at President@nfbmd.org.  Please be sure to specify whether you prefer Baltimore or PG/Montgomery county and whether you could travel to either.  We realize that there are many members who cannot get to either location, and we are actively working with MDOD to find solutions for every blind Marylander.


NFBMD COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

We continue to operate an affiliate COVID-19 fund to assist individuals and families that are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis.  This fund is available to blind individuals and families with a blind household member living in Maryland.  The financial assistance must be needed due to a change in circumstance, e.g. loss of employment income, because of COVID-19 or associated government directives like the Stay-at-Home order.  Assistance is limited to essentials such as groceries and medication.  This Fund is being administered by the NFBMD Financial Assistance Committee.  Anyone who is wishing to request assistance should contact me at President@nfbmd.org or at 443-426-4110.


In addition, we are seeking contributions to augment the NFBMD COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.  Those interested in making a monetary donation may do so by sending a check to NFBMD, 15 Charles Plaza, #3002, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 or by using the PayPal donation link on our website located at http://www.nfbmd.org/COVID-19Fund


Important Upcoming Dates

  • August 9 – August 20, 2021 – NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition Session 3
  • September 10, 2021 – Basket and Bag Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • September 19 – 26, 2021 – Blind Cruising 2021, Carnival Pride, Departing from Port of Baltimore
  • October 3, 2021 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Parkville, Maryland
  • November 12 – 14, 2021 – NFB of Maryland 55th Annual Convention, Baltimore, Maryland
  • February 7, 2022 – Great Gathering In, Washington, DC
  • February 8, 2022 – NFB of Maryland Day on the Hill, Washington, DC